Should I DIY my Roof Repairs?
It is so easy to overlook roof repairs or put them off, but it is important to stay on top of minor damage so that it can be repaired before it becomes an expensive repair and doing it yourself will be less expensive.
Roof inspection, repairs and maintenance are probably the most overlooked aspect of any property and without any of the three annual tasks, most homeowners will admit that it is not something they have even thought about doing. Annual inspection should be undertaken for any roof older than 20 years but is also important on a roof that is not that old since anything can happen at any time and not being aware of minor repairs that need to be done can result in expensive repairs and could even void your insurance cover.
Inspecting the roof will help you to identify any problems that may occur and able you to act immediately. It isn't always essential to call someone out to look if you know what you are looking for and how to fix the problem.
Know your Roof
Before inspecting the roof, get to know the individual components that make up the entire roof. If you need to search online for advice, it helps to know what you are talking about and make sure that you only get advice from a reputable source, preferably a local roofing company. There are so many articles out there that are paid for sponsorship that it is hard to wade through what is fact and what is fiction.
Climbing onto a roof is not a task that should be taken lightly, and you need to be prepared and kitted out with the proper safety gear. Here are a few tips to keep in mind when going up onto a roof:
- Use a stable ladder and secure this properly on the ground so that it doesn't slip. Tying the ladder to visible roof trusses around the outside of the roof will increase the level of security and ensure that you are safe.
- Wear clothing that is not loose and will not hinder you as you move around the roof. Sensible rubber-soled shoes are a must when climbing a ladder or working on any surface.
- Have your tools handy. If you don't have a tool belt, secure a small knapsack on your back that can be used to carry any tools you need.
Where to Inspect
Climbing up a ladder to a have quick look at the roof might not uncover problems that are not immediately visible. It is recommended that you look at areas that can be suspect or are more likely to wear quicker than others, to make sure that everything is okay. You should also go up into the attic or roof space to inspect trusses and timbers. Faults with these will not be visible but it is an area that can be the cause of future problems. Termites can cause a lot of damage to roof timbers, and you wouldn't even know it before it is too late. It will also be easier to detect any loose or broken tiles in the attic, as light will shine through and make it easier to identify problem areas.
Not all cracked or broken tiles will be visible with a brief inspection, and it is a good idea to check the roof from the outside and inside in the attic or roof space.
Check gutters and downspouts on a bi-annual basis, especially if you suspect a blockage or leak in either. You may not think so, but if either of these is damaged or blocked, water will eventually find its way into the structure of the house.
• Inspect roof timbers and trusses
Use a ladder to go around the structure to check visible roof timbers and trusses around the outside (underside) of the roof. A visit to the attic or roof space will allow you to inspect the roof timbers and trusses closely and to look for insect damage or wood rot. Roofing timbers are generally treated and should not rot, but if there has been a problem with previous leaks, this could have damaged the timbers.
DIY Repair: Repairing any problem with roof timbers and trusses is not something that can be done as a DIY project. The support for any roof is what holds everything together and it is better to have a reputable roofing company come and inspect if you find any signs of damage.
• Inspect flashing and valleys
Not always visible at first glance, a lot of problems can occur where flashing is installed around a chimney, vent pipes or skylight, or along valleys where different roof aspects come together. Rust is the most common fault in these areas, where the flashing rusts along the edges or where any screws are. If the flashing has been replaced with a waterproofing membrane this could be a problem with age.
DIY Repair: In many instances, flashing may be installed underneath roof tiles and be hard to reach. In this case, it is better to have a roofing company come out and repair or replace. If signs of rust are visible, you can pop into your nearest Builders store for supplies to fix this.
• Inspect Roof Ridge and Caps
The roof ridge stretches along the length of the roof and is covered by ridge caps - V-shaped or curved tiles that cover both sides of the slope of a roof. The ridge caps are secured onto the roof using mortar or similar and this can erode and break away over the years. Even a single broken or slipped ridge cap can cause extensive damage to a roof by allowing water into the attic or roof space. Depending on the location, leaks inside the property may not be immediately visible if water is absorbed into roof trusses and timbers but this can bring about wood rot.
DIY Repair: Replacing mortar along the ridge to re-secure ridge caps is a DIY project and you will find all the tools and materials for the repair at any Builders store. If you are unsure about repairing this yourself, have 3 roofing companies come out and quote for the repair.
• Inspect Gutters and Downspouts
I have frequently touched on the topic of inspecting and cleaning gutters and downspouts, but don't overlook this task, especially if there are trees on the property.
DIY Repair: Inspecting and repairing gutters and downspouts is a job you can tackle yourself. Everything you need can be purchased at Builders and you only need to give yourself a weekend to get the job done.
• Inspect Roof Tiles
Roof tiles protect the structure and ensure its integrity. Any loose, cracked, or broken roof tiles need to be removed and replaced as quickly as possible. It is necessary to climb onto the roof to remove any suspect roof tiles and replace these with new tiles. The only problem with this job is finding the right type of style and colour to match the existing roof. Luckily, the Internet gives you access to information not previously available, and you can go online to source what you need. However, if the roof is old, you may not find the exact same match in style and colour, and this will be a problem that only a roofing company will be able to solve for you. If you find a similar style but not colour, painting the entire roof to match will be the only option.
DIY Repair: Shop around for tiles that match the style and colour of the existing roof tiles. If you find the right style but not the same colour, painting the roof will solve the problem. You can paint it yourself, you can hire a painter or labourer to do it for you, or you can have a roof painting company do the job. Taking the DIY route will save you money and you can buy roof paint and supplies at any Builders store.
There are tasks that you can DIY for maintaining and repairing damage to a roof, but only take this on yourself if you are confident in your abilities. If you feel that the job is too much, the alternative will be to hire a reputable roofing company. DO obtain at least 3 quotations for the job and request contactable references.